The theme for this final chapter is the control of aggression and violence in sport. It will take a critical look at how the law deals with violent acts in sport, and at the arguments and recommendations for 'reducing the incidence of aggression and violence in the athletic domain' contained in the International Society of Sport Psychology's (ISSP) position stand. Following on from this critical review, measures are proposed for (a) reducing unsanctioned violent acts in sport, based on successful strategies implemented by the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and (b) dealing with soccer hooliganism and other types of sports riots. Finally, the usefulness of reversal theory in providing a new and integrated framework for understanding aggressive and violent behaviour in sport and the implications of this approach for research are discussed.
Until recent years, there has been a kind of unwritten code of silence amongst players and some officials in team contact sports. This ensured that 'what happened on the playing area during a game stayed there' and the possibility of taking an opponent to court was rarely, if ever, realised. Even in cases where players had been injured, they were generally reluctant to testify against any aggressor. Part of the background to this code was the fact that there was always the chance for 'evening the score' the next time the two players or teams met. However, recently some violent incidents in sport have resulted in criminal assault court cases, as well as claims for compensation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, since the early 1990s, legal cases may also have been increasing (e.g. Henderson, 1996; James and Gardiner, 1997; Young, 1993), but it is not known if it is the actual number of violent incidents, or just the number of court cases, that have been increasing. The police and courts have generally been reluctant to get involved in incidents of unsanctioned violence on the playing area during games. In England, for example, although the police are entitled to intervene at their own discretion, they only do so as a last resort (Henderson, 1996). One example where police did decide to intervene was at the 1996 British ice hockey championship playoff between Durham Wasps and Humberside Hawks. A fight broke out during the pre-game warm up, and police arrested two players.